Russia will begin offering its Covid-19 vaccine to volunteers this week, report claims

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With coronavirus cases around the world now at over 26 million, scientists have been working around the clock to develop a vaccine.

Several vaccines are being worked on, with a jab produced by the University of Oxford tipped to be the front-runner.

However, a new report suggests that Russia’s vaccine, called Sputnik V, will be offered to volunteers starting this week.

The TASS news agency cites Health Minister Mikhail Murashko as revealing the news today.

The jab was developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute and was approved after less than two months of human testing, according to Vladimir Putin.

He claims he has even allowed his own daughter to test the experimental vaccine.

The speed at which Russia is moving to roll out its vaccine highlights its determination to win the global race for an effective product.

But is has also sparked fears it may be putting national prestige before science and safety.

Speaking at a government meeting on state television last month, Mr Putin vowed the vaccine is safe and that it had even been administered to one of his daughters.

“I know that it works quite effectively, forms strong immunity, and I repeat, it has passed all the needed checks,” he said.

The leader added he hoped Russia would soon start mass producing the vaccine.

Its approval by the health ministry foreshadows the start of a larger trial involving thousands of participants, commonly known as a Phase III trial.

Such trials, which require a certain rate of participants catching the virus to observe the vaccine’s effect, are normally considered essential precursors for a vaccine to receive regulatory approval.

Regulators around the world have insisted that the rush to develop Covid-19 vaccines will not compromise safety.

But recent surveys show growing public distrust in governments’ efforts to rapidly produce such a vaccine. 

More than 100 possible vaccines are being developed around the world to try to end the pandemic, including world-leading trials in the UK.

At least four around the world are in final Phase III human trials, according to World Health Organisation (WHO) data.

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